Once a Slicer, always a Slicer: Stephanie Kuzydym Class of 2008
Being from a small town can make it seem near impossible to make a name for oneself. Stephanie Kuzydym, though, is working hard to not only make a name for herself, but for Slicers as well.
Kuzydym graduated from LaPorte High School in 2008 and continued her education at Indiana University Bloomington. She now lives in Houston, Texas, where she works as a freelance writer.
Kuzydym has loved storytelling for as long as she can remember. Her first memory of finding her adoration for writing was in elementary school when she was asked to write books.
“My first book was about a whale and a seahorse, and the whole point of the story was that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The next year, I was really into Junie B. Jones. I wrote a book about Junie B. Jones, and my mom actually sent it to the author of Junie B. Jones, and she wrote me a letter back. It basically told me to keep at it, so I did,” Kuzydym said.
According to her mom, her storytelling has been extreme since she was a little girl. When asked questions, rather than giving a simple response, she would provide details and ramble on about all aspects of her story. Her early interest in storytelling was a look at what the future could hold for her, and her mom encouraged her greatly.
Through the several years that Kuzydym has been a writer, she would mainly describe herself during that time as one word: stubborn.
“There is a lot that goes into it [writing] that makes it difficult, and I’ve been really stubborn about it, too. I’m stubborn about getting answers; I just kind of stick to it so that’s where I eventually got into investigative work and that kind of stubbornness I’ve been told paid off. It’s been something I’ve had to learn how to walk the line a little with,” Kuzydym said.
While Kuzydym has made her way into the city, she has never forgotten her roots. According to Kuzydym, being from a small town inspired her to want to get out and make a name for herself–a name that could be credited back to LaPorte.
“Being a Slicer led me to this point because it motivated me to explore the world and boundaries and new things. I realized that I could love a small town but also learn a lot outside of it, too.” ”
— Stephanie Kuzydym
With the help of specific classes and former teacher, Mr. Fruth, her time at LPHS guided her to become not just a reporter but a storyteller.
“He really changed the way I wrote and the way I looked at a story, and that kind of took me into the career that I’ve had,” Kuzydym said.
Through her years at LPHS and after high school, Kuzydym’s advice to any high school student would be to step outside of comfort zones.
“Do things outside of your boundaries. Step outside of your comfort zone,” Kuzydym said.
Stepping outside of her comfort zone is something Kuzydym has definitely had her fair share of experience with. With all careers come challenges, but with challenges come opportunities for growing, learning, and, in Kuzydym’s case, taking on new hobbies.
In 2016, Kuzydym was told by some highly-respected journalists that she had failed at her career as a writer. Having had dreams of being a journalist since grade school, Kuzydym was crushed, and she decided to approach one of her most hated hobbies: running.
“When this guy told me that I was the worst at this [writing], I had always been one to be like ‘Tell me something and I’ll prove you wrong.’ And I thought ‘I’m not the worst journalist, and I’m going to prove that I’m not even the worst runner to myself!’” Kuzydym said.
With motivation from a friend, she began running, and the rest is history.
“I went out for a run one day, and in the middle of my run this guy was standing there and he started cheering and clapping for me and I was like ‘Are you serious?’. Whatever it did, it really helped,” Kuzydym said.
Since taking on running, Kuzydym has completed five marathons, two 200 mile relays, and she has not stopped there; she plans to run her sixth marathon in January.
While the struggles her career has brought her are unlimited, her awards and love for reporting and writing have stood far above. Kuzydym has racked up some impressive awards, some even the most well-known journalists do not hold the privilege of owning.
“I’ve officially won two Emmy’s, I’ve produced for two others, and I’ve won a DuPont. They’ve been for all sorts of things. The first two [Emmy’s] were for investigative work, and the two others that I produced were for sex-trafficking and for investigative coverage following Hurricane Harvey,” Kuzydym said.
Through her multiple awards and numerous spots of recognition, Kuzydym has remained humble and has found that through hard work, anything is possible.
Even after a decade of being apart from LaPorte High School, Kuzydym proves one thing true: “Once a Slicer, always a Slicer.”